If there’s one thing almost every hero has in common, it’s a lack of parents.
Not in the literal sense, but in most stories, especially ones with a sci-fi or fantasy bent, the parents of the hero tend to be obviously absent. Either gone, or killed, or removed for whatever reason.
- Bilbo and Frodo
On and on the list goes, as long as the journey to Mount Doom.
Imagine if the parents of the hero (or heroine) were applying to the School of Storytelling with the hope of being cast in a story. What would their résumé look like?
I’m glad you asked. 😉
Résumé of the Hero’s Parents
We wish to gain an honorable place in whatever storyline will have us. Namely, the role of the nobody. By sending in this application, we realize the possibility that we are, in effect, writing out our last will and testament and signing up for death.
We take full responsibility should such outcomes occur. We’re willing to sacrifice any personal fame garnered from being one of the rare surviving parents of a hero for the sake of the story.
We’re also not opposed to having no part in the story at the outset, yet magically appearing (imagine that!) with the wonderful news that the hero does have parents.
Education (classical for people in our position)
- How to die in a way that makes the biggest impact on other characters and audience alike
- How to stir up more conflict
- How to let go of our emotional connections to the hero
- What to say and what not to say
- How to be absent for long periods of time
- How to infuse melodrama when necessary
- How to shock hero in the event he discovers he actually has parents
- How to raise an unassuming child
- How to keep the hero from experiencing too much of the world before the call to adventure
Skills and Abilities
- No strong inclination to remain in the story for any significant amount of time
- Willing to travel, being gone except by name and in thought
- Not afraid of premature death
- Are fine with having no important role in the story, except perhaps in the form of memories on the part of the hero
- Flourish when forced to remain hidden within the scope of the story
- Ability to remain quiet
- If needed to die during the course of the story, excel at creating dramatic, tear-jerking scenes
- Deep love for the hero, making our absence that much more painful
- In the unlikely event we survive, a gift for making life more difficult and complicated through our presence
- If appearing later in story, the talent of concealing our true identities, even in the presence of the hero
- Proficient in the arts of crying at opportune (and inopportune) times, imparting sage advice, and truly desiring what’s best for the hero
- Willing to be parted from each other, as per standard requirements of some storylines
- Thorough in most areas, except that of dying, though we’ve given much practice to that particular topic
- Most villains who see it as a necessity to remove us and thus expose the hero
- The hero we raised
- We would provide more, but many of the people we knew—fellow parents—are no longer living
If you were applying for the position of parents of the hero, what would you put on your résumé? I’d love to hear your thoughts.